Finding the Best place to stay for your New York Trip can be a challenging task. New York is a Vast and intimidating place for the unaccustomed. The towering concrete canyons, impatient locals and cabbies, and throngs of people all make for a high-stress environment, and having the perfect location to tackle the City is a must.
There are literally hundreds of hotels in New York. Ranging from Budget to Super high-end Luxury. These are Hotels are Scattered far and wide across the City. A quick search on a Hotel finder shows pins all across the map. It really can be hard to know the best places to stay in New York City especially if you are not accustomed to the different neighborhoods and boroughs. You will hear all sorts of advice and opinions online, but these are often conflicting and biased to certain viewpoints. Who to trust?
Well, our guide is aimed at helping you understand the different Boroughs and Neighborhoods, the pros and cons of each area, and how these may suit your particular needs. There is no one particular best locations all have their only quirks and features and all will suit visitors differently. We aim to help you understand this so you can find the right fit for you.
Hotel Prices in New York
There is no avoiding it New York Hotel Prices are expensive. Probably some of the most expensive in the country. Even cheap, low-cost no-frills options in fairly poor areas are still extremely expensive for what they are.
$200 a night is pretty standard and for this, you can expect rooms to be unusually very small locations less than perfect and receive a dated room on a low floor with little view. The better hotels and nicer rooms start at over $300 and night and anything remotely luxurious and spacious in the nicer districts run into the $1000 a night.
Real-Estate in New York is about as expansive as it gets per sq ft and this is reflected in the price of hotel rooms. We take a look at some of the better budget options here, but overall budget ad New York hotels do not Mix too well.
The Good news is the quality of the hotel does not matter too much as you are unlikely to spend much time there as you have the Whole Big Apple to get out and explore.
Safety – What’s the Safest Neighborhood?
A quick note on safety. New York has a reputation as a fairly unsafe city. This is a historical reputation that today is completely unfounded. The advice we once received was “always carry enough cash to satisfy a mugger”. Nowadays all we would advise is to carry enough cash to satisfy a hot dog vendor! Any Neighbourhood I suggest is safe at pretty much all hours.
During the Late 90’s early 2000’s the City underwent gentrification. Prices soared and the poor were forced out as hordes of affluent rich Americans poured in. There are still the rougher areas but even the worst NO-GO areas of the past are not what they once were. We remember recently standing in Brooklyn, at night, with $3000 worth of camera equipment dressed as complete tourists. 20 years ago we would have been dead, today the only folk around were other photographers.
Like all City’s nowhere is 100% safe. But basic precautions are all that’s needed. Travel safe and smart. The main issues now are Scams but these will only relieve you of a few $. Pickpockets are an issue but even these are rare. Homelessness is a problem, like in a lot of America but on the whole, they leave tourists alone. If you stick to the well-worn tourist districts, New York is now probably one of the safest places you will ever visit. For one thing, the City is so bustling and busy you are rarely alone for a moment to allow for anything untoward to happen!
Best Areas to Stay in Manhattan
- Times Square
- Hells Kitchen
- Murray Hill
- Upper Eastside
Most people stay on the island of Manhattan. It’s where most of the most popular attractions are and most hotels are situated here. You don’t need to stay in Manhattan, Lots of People don’t. But it’s where most of this article will relate to. We have covered the Other Boroughs Below, but for most first-time visitors, Manhattan is the place to be. Staying outside of Manhattan means daily commuting to get to the big city, and who wants to commute on your vacation!
Obviously, Manhattan is far too large to not break it down into districts. These are not listed in order of Preference more in order of popularity. It’s important to read the pros and cons and see what suits you. One persons perfect is another person’s Hell.
Right at the heart of everything. This is a first-timer’s idea of what New York Really is. Most Attractions are right on your doorstep. Hotels Won’t be cheap and neither will be anything else. But, a short stroll away will find you pretty much anything at cheaper prices.
- Right in the middle of it all
- Every amenity on hand
- Great for short Stays as limited travel time
- Major Subway stop to whisk you off to anywhere else in New York
- Busy, Really Busy
- Hotels Expensive
- Everything Else Expensive (Times Square Surcharge)
- Can be noisy (and busy) at all hours
- Did we mention it’s Busy?
For many, the search for a New York Hotel starts and ends in Times Square. But for a lot of guests Times Square strikes a pretty sour note. It is insanely busy at times on the Square and when you are actually staying here escaping this madness is nigh on impossible.
Most visitors to New York eventually work out that for the most part Times square is a place to be avoided. It obviously has to be visited, you need to experience it just so that you know quite how crazy it is. But aside from that, you start to navigate the City in such a way as to avoid the place. When you are staying here, that is impossible. It is a fight to just get into and out of your hotel. It can be so busy that queues form simply to cross the road and you have to wait for several cycles to actually get across. It is pure madness.
The upside of a times square stay is you really are front and center of most things. And for those places you have to travel to the Subway will whisk you straight there. As far a location goes this is the top spot.
It’s just that whole tourist trap vibe and the fact you can barely move outside of your hotel that makes times Square less than ideal for most.
We take a deep dive into whether or not you should stay in Times Square here
And we take a look at the Best Hotels on Times Square here
Midtown is the Large highly built-up area in the center of Manhattan Island. While Times Square is part of Midtown the area itself extends far beyond the boundaries of the Square. This is one of the most densely populated areas in the world and there is a huge number of things to do, both touristy or more authentic.
The Buildings soar above toy and the concrete canyons of the City are most prevalent here. 5th Av, the Rockefeller Center, Broadway theatre district, and the Empire State are all found here. There are huge numbers of hotels and staying here can have most of the benefits of a Times Square Hotel without all the fighting to get out of your door. In fact, even just half a block out from the Square things improve.
- Close to most attractions
- Heart of the City
- Many Transport links for further exploration
- Slightly Quieter than Times Square
- Many restaurants, Cafes, Bars within Walking distance
- Still Noisy
A lot of hotels in Midtown actually bill themselves as Times Square when some are actually just off the square and others require a large stretch of the imagination to be classed as Times Square. Overall Midtown is our favorite spot to stay in New York. It suits shorter high activity stays where you wish to be in the thick of things and near all attractions.
Midtown fits the bill perfectly. You are central to most things. Central Park is a short walk away. All of Midtown’s Tourist attractions and amenities are tight there and anything you need to travel for is only a subway ride away.
Technically the Area can be broken down further and the next two areas are kind of midtown but on the outside edges.
Best Midtown Hotels New York
on the western side of Midtown is Hells Kitchen, which is no longer as scary as it sounds. Its name was based on the early poor Irish immigrants who populated the district. Back then It would not be advisable to stay or even visit here, but the Hells Kitchen of today bears no resemblance.
Now Renowned as a foodies paradise if you can’t find something great to eat here we don’t think you will anywhere. Still Fairly central and only a short walk to Times Square and most of New Yorks’s attractions. the Hustle and Bustle begin to drop off around here and so do the Hotel Prices, remember it’s still New York though so “budget” is still relative.
- Still Quite central
- Prices cheaper
- Wide Variety of Restaurants
- Slightly away from the centre
- Small amount of travel to attractions
- Less big city “buzz”
The Area has a more relaxed vibe than central Midtown and a far more residential feel. The blocks of flats look a little more run-down (they still cost the earth, however) and the streets take on a leafier feel.
As you get right out towards the Hudson the prices are lowest due to the less than ideal location. You are not only further away from the center but all further from the useful subway stations. Staying out here means a fair bit of walking every day.
Best Hotels in Hell’s Kitchen
Very Much Like Hells Kitchen but off to the East. Again a very similar prospect only with fewer food options. The area feels more business-like. Again very close to everything and prices are that little bit cheaper. Most Attractions are very close and Grand Central is nearby meaning transport links are excellent. It can be a little noisy all day and night so look for a room high off the ground.
- Still Quite central
- Prices cheaper
- Very good transport links
- Can Be Noisy
- Business feel as opposed to Touristy
- Slightly further out of the center
We do like Murray hill and if you bag a good price then it’s a good place to stay the real downsides are it is just a bit dull. The area feels like a great place to have an office but not so much to base a vacation. That said you are only a few blocks from everything so if you are just using your hotel to sleep who cares really.
Best Hotels in Murray Hill
One of our favorite parts of New York. It’s not particularly well placed but it’s a nice place to be in itself. Great for longer Stays where you have time to go off and explore the City but you have a nice relaxed area to come back to. Very hip and trendy with lots of bars and cafes. The prices are reasonable too.
- More Relaxed Feel
- Pleasant “leafy” upmarket area
- Many Bars, Cafe’s Restaurants
- Further away from centre
- Travel required for most attractions
Chelsea is the sort of area you would aspire to live in if you could, it’s the real New York. rows of Brownstone houses, Leafy Streets, Parks, shops, and endless bars and cafes. For shorter stays, it really doesn’t work as it is just a bit too far from the action but for longer stays, it really gets you under the skin of the city.
Best Hotels in Chelsea
Upper East Side and Park Street
This is the very high end of New York. Top Quality hotels at top prices. This is where the millionaires live and stay. Home of the “world-renowned” Plaza hotel and severe other high-end luxury Hotels. This is where you stay when money is just not a consideration.
- Very Upmarket Area
- Near Central Park with Possible Views
- Excellent for museum visits
- Very Expensive
- Poorly Located for tourist attractions
The suitability of the location varies depending on how far north you stay. While you should have wonderful direct access to the part some of the more northern hotels are pretty far from a lot of New York’s Sights and attractions…but then your limo driver will probably take care of this for you. Anywhere on Park Street (59th) will be fantastically located for everything.
You really can’t go wrong with anywhere on 59th, Park Av, or 4th Av it’s just the prices are a little steep for our wallets. If that is not an issue then go for it!
Best Hotels Upper East Side
Downtown is Manhattan’s main business district, home of the famous financial districts the whole area is very clean and corporate. There are a huge number of hotels, most of them set up to cater to business guests. These are often low-cost chain hotels perfect for clients jetting in a stain a few nights while conducting business.
On the face of it, these seem less suited to tourists who normally seek something a bit grander for their vacations. However, this is New York and most people are out exploring the city rather than enjoying their hotel room. These kinds of hotels are clean comfortable and minimalist. Perfect to retire to, refresh, and recharge ready for another day out in the city.
- Different feel to Midtown
- Great for Return guests wanting something different
- Lots of Attractions Nearby
- Great Transport links
- Far Away from Midtown Attractions
- Cold, corporate, and Businesslike
The Big Downside is the location. While you have Some places of interest right on your doorstep, the World Trade Centre, Wall Street, Battery park, there is less to see down here than up in the more tourist-focused Midtown District. While Transport links are excellent after all millions commute here daily. It’s just a bit of a chore to commute daily while on vacation.
We prefer staying nearer the Midtown area and head Downtown for the day to take in the sights. There are some real bargains to be had downtown though take a look at our Budget Hotels Guide.
Best Hotels Downtown Manhattan
Greenwich Village / Soho / Tribeca
I’m afraid we have lumped quite a few districts into one here. Mainly because they border each other and as such share very similar pros and cons. Each has its own Vibe but really very similar in terms of access to the rest of the city.
The Hip Trendy modern parts of New York. Lots of cafes, bars, and restaurants. Prices vary wildly, Bargains can be had but also home to some high-end hotels. Similar to Chelsea in that you need to travel to most places, Although Tribeca is technically downtown so close to those attractions (World Trade Centre, Wall Street, Battery Park). It’s a nice fun place to return back to in the evening. There is no shortage of excellent places to eat and drink.
- Very Hip Trendy Areas
- Loads of Bars and Restaurants
- Quiet Peaceful Base
- Not Located Centrally
- Lacks the City Buzz
Like Chelsea, the areas have a distinct residential Vibe and would be great places to live but for all but longer stays in the City, we find them just too out of the way. They are must-visits during your trip to take in the cool Cafe Culture and explore the sights and the odd movie / TV Location these are not our favorite to stay in.
Best Hotels Soho/Greenwich/Tribeca
Brooklyn – Google Maps
Brooklyn sits just across the East River and is one of the most often suggested alternatives to staying outside of Manhattan. Many tout this as a great way to save money while still securing great accommodation.
Overall we love Brooklyn, we really do, and happily visit the area every trip. But we would not stay here. Money-saving is a valuable commodity, but on short city breaks it’s not as valuable as time. Staying over in Brooklyn means commuting to the City every time you want to see or do anything. It may not sound much but 20-30 mins each way on a crowded subway is not the best start and end to every day.
What’s more, the cost savings are only moderate compared to staying right in the heart of it.
- Can Save Money
- Relaxed Quieter Feel
- More “real” New York Feel
- Long Travel Every time you want to visit Manhattan
Best Hotels in Brooklyn
Staten Island / Queens / The Bronx
The other Boroughs have the exact same issue as Brooklyn only even more pronounced as they are further away. There are also less attractive locations than Brooklyn to base your trip.
Really apart from Brooklyn, we really don’t advise staying outside of Manhattan unless you really have a specific reason. There are Bargains to be had, but there is a reason for that. It’s just not worth the travel time to save a bit of cash. If this is your dream trip to the big Apple Its advisable to stay in the heart of the City where you can really enjoy the experience. There is Nothing Wrong with these boroughs and we highly encourage a visit. They just aren’t what MOST people are looking for when weighing up accommodation.
Overall – Best Place to Stay in New York
We really find due to the short-length nature of our New York Visits, combined with the desire to really hit the City and pack it all in that staying centrally is the best option. While we find Times Square proper to be a bit much, just a block out, or at the far ends of the Square, is enough to escape the madness but still be in the beating heart of the City.
For this reason, we look toward Midtown and try an get as close to the Square as possible. Staying up by the park is wonderful but our budget seldom allows for this. The outer-lying neighborhoods really work for longer stays with less pressure on packing all the sights in and are just great places to relax too and explore.
Really just being in New York is enough, but staying in the middle helps preserve the most precious commodity on these trips’ time. Also after a few days of hitting the streets not having the extra mile hike to start and end the day off becomes very welcome.
Downtown offers a really different experience and there are some stunning bargains, but on the whole, we find guests are happier when they stay up in the Midtown area.
Choosing a Hotel?
Now you have the Area Decided it’s time to find a suitable hotel. This is not easy. TripAdvisor lists over 460 hotels In New York. So even with your area narrowed down, there will still be a big list to choose from. Unfortunately Budget is going to be a big factor. This can instantly rule a large portion of hotels out of the running.
Remember Competition is Fierce so your hotel won’t be around for long so the chances are you will be fine with whatever you choose.
Air B&B in New York
Air B&B stays are for the most part illegal in New York. Short-term rentals (less than 30days) are outlawed in the City unless the Homeowner is present. This means room lets are ok but whole apartments are not permitted.
The Law tends to come down on the owners as opposed to the renters, so there is little to fear in that respect. However, there is the risk, and it’s a risk that has been realized by a few travelers, that in the time between your booking and your stay the Owner’s rental is shut down. This could leave you arriving in New York with nowhere to stay!
For this reason, and the fact the Airb&b in New York is oftentimes not that much cheaper, we stick to hotels. We are always interested in new ways to travel and ways to save cash when traveling, but we have not found Airb&b to be the solution in New York.
Have Your Say
Been to New York recently? Where did you stay? What did you think of it? Would you have rather stayed elsewhere? I would love to hear your experiences Please comment below. And drop me a comment if you have any questions at all